Unit History: RAF Warton
Warton Aerodrome (IATA: N/A, ICAO: EGNO) is located near to Warton village on the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire, England. The aerodrome is six nautical miles (11.1 km) west of Preston, Lancashire, UK.
In 1940 new runways were built at Warton so that it could act as a "satellite" airfield for the RAF Coastal Command station at Squires Gate airfield in Blackpool
The airfield was first operated as an air depot of the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, as thousands of aircraft were processed on their way to active service in Britain, North Africa, the Mediterranean and mainland Europe. It then became an RAF Station
In 1947, English Electric took over the site moving their design office there from Strand Road Preston in 1948.
With the merger of English Electric Aviation with other aircraft divisions of the major manufacturers it became a British Aircraft Corporation site and then privatised as British Aerospace until its final transformation into BAE Systems. As such the airfield has been the testing ground for several front line aircraft including the Canberra, the Lightning, the Panavia Tornado and BAE Hawk (formerly the Hawker Siddeley Hawk) and most latterly the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The final new build Tornado left Warton in 1998, a GR.1 for Saudi Arabia. Following this the main assembly hall was re-fitted as the final assembly site of the Eurofighter Typhoon. BAE estimate that modern manufacturing techniques will allow the 30 week assembly time for a Tornado to be reduced to 16 weeks for the Typhoon.
Warton was used as the base for all British development aircraft (DA) and Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) in the Eurofighter programme. Warton has been home to the initial Typhoon squadrons of the Royal Air Force, No. 17 Squadron and No. 29 Squadron. This was under the so called "Case White" programme where BAE assumes more responsibility for training and support of the new aircraft than previous RAF types which were introduced under a more "in house" system. BAE insist that this allows inevitable problems with any new aircraft to be quickly ironed out by BAE personnel on site. BAE plans to offer this on site service to any export customers.
Warton is also used for development flying of the Nimrod MRA4 Maritime Reconnaissance and Attack aircraft. Two development aircraft are currently (2007) going through trials and evaluation (The third, PA3, was retired in mid 2007 due to financial pressures). Eventually the aircraft will be based at RAF Kinloss in Moray.
Warton is the base for BAE Systems’ "Corporate Air Travel" department which operates scheduled services for employees (and those of partner organisations) to Farnborough, Munich, Filton, Cambridge, RAF Coningsby, and RAF Marham. The Farnborough and Munich services are provided by Corporate Air Travel’s BAe 146 aircraft, with the others contracted out to other operators. Many ad-hoc passenger flights also take place operated by various VIP operators including the Queen’s Flight.
Since 21 November 1994, Lancashire Constabulary has operated an Air Support Unit from the site with their G-LCON Eurocopter AS.355N Twin Squirrel ’Oscar November 21’, This aircraft is fitted with special equipment as follows: AGEMA/Leo 400 nose FLIR/Video turret, searchlight, Nitesun, comms systems.
The site is not open to the public, although limited areas are made accessible during Open Days (currently on a four yearly cycle) which the company holds for the families and friends of employees and local residents. These Open Days, which are free of charge, typically include demonstrations of activities, tours of simulation facilities and impressive flying displays